Retro image of Golf mark 2 with cassettes, VCR and old brick phone

Golf Mk 2: Bigger, bolder, brighter

In 1984, Volkswagen reimagined its smash hit hatchback for a new decade. The Golf Mk 2 emerged into a world of fast fashion, pop culture obsession and radical reinvention. Would it have what it takes to make it?

2 passengers sit inside a red Golf mark 2 on a desert like road

The Eighties were the decade when pop culture erupted like never before. From hip hop to dayglo. From MTV to ripped jeans. From big hair to the Breakfast Club. Nothing was off limits and everything was bigger, bolder and brighter.

It was a precarious moment when the Golf Mk 2 launched in the UK in March 1984. At a time when remixing had been elevated to an artform, the success of the Golf Mk 1 meant that drivers were now spoiled for choice as a host of rival hatchbacks entered the market. The fickle finger of fashion could easily point in a different direction.

The task of reimagining Giorgetto Giugiaro’s original lines fell to Volkswagen’s head designer Herbert Schäfer. He made the Golf Mk 2 longer and roomier, with an altogether more substantial look that resonated with the power-dressing sharp lines and wide shoulders of the day.

The later addition of distinctive ‘big bumpers’ have completed the Golf Mk 2’s iconic Eighties styling, but it was the Volkswagen badge that inspired one of the most unusual trends of the decade, when Mike D of the Beastie Boys’ wore a Volkswagen badge as a necklace in the video for (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!).

His novel fashion accessory sparked a pandemic of badge thefts by imitators from Birmingham to Brooklyn. Volkswagen responded with a newspaper ad featuring a Golf Mk 2 with a missing badge that told fans that instead of stealing, all they had to do was write and ask and Volkswagen would send them a badge for free.

A year after its release, the Golf Mk 2 won the ‘What Car? Magazine’ Car of the Year. And then, as if to prove the riot of creativity wasn’t limited to the fields of fashion, film and music, Volkswagen embarked on some remixing of its own.

Alongside the C, CL, GL, GT and range topping Carat trims, there were variants like the rugged Golf Country offroader and the motorsport inspired Golf Rallye with its unique rectangular headlights and supercharged engine.

Engine bay of Golf mark 2

At a time when imagining unlikely futures was all the rage in box office hits like Blade Runner and Mad Max, Volkswagen’s most audacious variant showed the true shape of things to come. With sixteen batteries and a range of just over 30 miles, the groundbreaking Golf II CitySTROMer became the first ever all-electric Volkswagen passenger car to go on sale to the public.

Digital technology also experienced its first consumer boom in the Eighties. Home computing became a reality with Amstrad, Sinclair, Commodore and even BBC ‘micros’ invading the nation’s living rooms, inspiring movies like Tron and bands like German electro-pop pioneers Kraftwerk to imagine what life would be inside our new computerised world.

The first Golf to go digital was the new Mk 2 GTI. Affectionately nicknamed the ‘Pocket Rocket’, it had a 16-valve engine that could deliver 0-62mph in a blistering 8 seconds, and a cutting edge digital display so you could watch it happen.

 The Eighties started with a bang and would end with a collapse. In 1989, the Cold War ended as the Soviet Union disintegrated. The oppressive Berlin Wall that had divided Germany for nearly 30 years was toppled as East Germans flooded to reunite with West Germans for the first time in decades. 

One of those liberated East Germans was a 35-year-old doctor of chemistry, who would one day become Chancellor of Germany. Her name was Angela Merkel, a rising star of politics who had distinguished herself early in her career with her pragmatism and sound decision making. And the first Western car she bought? A Volkswagen Golf Mk 2.

Just as revolution had come to Europe, so it would come to Volkswagen. By 1991, the Golf Mk 2 had sold 6 million models worldwide and broken into new markets like China and Eastern Europe. It was much loved and had established itself as the benchmark for all hatchbacks, but nobody in Wolfsburg was resting on their laurels. The time had come for the Golf Mk3.


Get the latest news


Get the latest news

Mail Contact

Sign up and we'll deliver updates and news straight to your inbox. 

• Find out more about the latest car launches, products and innovations
• Tips to help you to get the most out of your car 
• Events, promotions and special offers
Tips to help you to get the most out of your car

Next steps

Explore the Golf 8

Explore Volkswagen Magazine

Next steps

Important information :

^If you are selecting a Volkswagen ID.3, ID.4, ID.5, ID.7, ID.7 Tourer or ID.Buzz then prices shown are the MDP (Manufacturer's Direct Price).  This is the price set by Volkswagen which you pay for the vehicle.  Volkswagen ID vehicles are sold by Volkswagen UK, a trading division of Volkswagen Group United Kingdom Limited (please note that you will need to visit an authorised Volkswagen Retailer (acting as agent for Volkswagen UK) to order, purchase and take delivery of your Volkswagen ID vehicle).  The MDP includes delivery to an authorised Volkswagen Retailer (acting as agent for Volkswagen UK), number plates, new vehicle registration fee, the first year's Vehicle Excise Duty and VAT (calculated at 20%).  You can find out more about the Volkswagen model for selling ID vehicles by clicking

If you are selecting any other Volkswagen vehicle (excluding the Volkswagen ID.3, ID.4, ID.5, ID.7, ID.7 Tourer or ID.Buzz) then prices listed are Manufacturer’s ‘On the road’ Recommended Retail Price. Actual prices are set by Volkswagen authorised retailers in their sole discretion – always obtain these prices from your chosen Volkswagen Retailer.  Recommended On-The-Road (OTR) retail prices include: delivery charge, number plates, new vehicle registration fee, the first year's Vehicle Excise Duty and VAT (calculated at 20%). Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information above. Prices are taken from the Volkswagen website - this website contains a large number of products and it is always possible that, despite our best efforts, some of the products listed may be incorrectly priced. Volkswagen may change prices at any time (this includes where there are government changes in regulation and/or legislation). There may be a delay to any price displaying correctly on our materials and it is always possible that, despite our best efforts, some vehicles may be incorrectly priced. Always check prices with your local retailer.

Please be advised we may not be able to provide valuations for vehicles which are outside certain age or mileage ranges, specialist or customised, or not registered in the UK. The actual sale price is dependent on a number of additional factors, which you can discuss further with your retailer. T&Cs will apply.